FEROCITY Chapter Four through EightMichael Callinglast / Humor / Thrillers & Crime
“Come on, Keira-Monster. Answer.” She doesn’t though.
My car’s a Fahrenheit 2008. It’s a shark, sleek, silver, and made for murder. The doors slide open and I glide in. Dashboard lights up in electric blues and neon greens. It’s like getting inside a Stealth fighter plane. I switch on the ignition and hear her grumble to life, like waking a predator. She’s got the cold air intake (Swagger’s Series 64 Air Charger) and runs around 450 horses under the slick hood.
“Good to see you again, Jack,” she says, her computerized voice sounding like Rachael Ray.
“Howdy, Rhonda. You miss me?”
I haven’t fully programmed her yet. She can hold about fifty gigs of voice commands, various phrases and responses, etc. The pamphlet I got said you could program an entire conversation with her if you wanted. Soon.
“Of course I missed you, you beast,” she replies. She’s good for the ego.
You ever been in mad grand love? You crawl into bed and there she is (or he, if you’re a she or a he, I don’t judge) waiting for you. And you lay down and she wraps her arms around you and it’s like she was carved from the universe for the sole purpose of that singular moment. You feel warm and safe and protected, and everything is perfect and clean in the world, and the night is a soft song because you are embraced in beauty. That’s how I feel every time I sit in my Fahrenheit. Every time.
“What’s our destination?” Rhonda asks.
“Crossroads Mall.” I give Rhonda the exact address.
“Thirteen point four miles,” Rhonda says. “Head north on Palatine Avenue, toward North 45th Street. Turn left on Greenwood Avenue North.”
She lives on the Eastside, so I cruise over the 520 bridge. I love Seattle at night when the rain has poured itself on the black asphalt and everything, even the very ground, is aglow. It means I’m alive and electric in the new millennium. And I am immortal.
I shift gears and blow by a Miata. Through Bellevue and now taking the exit. This is her old neighborhood, right here. Crossroads Mall.
I remember the very last time I saw her. It was eight days before her birthday, a Friday night, the last day of February. I parked and walked up the steps to her apartment and she met me at the door after I knocked. She wore a white and blue nightshirt, bare legs, fuzzy white slippers.
“You look good,” she said, stepping back, admiring my new jacket.
I turned and extended my arms. I was pleased with the jacket and extremely pleased she approved.
“Men’s Warehouse,” I told her. “One eighty. Even has two inside pockets. How sweet is that?”
She laughed and hugged me and I think there was something sad and desperate about that hug. The look in her eyes.
She was sick that night so we just sat there on her bed talking. Her room was empty except for her mattress and a desk and for some reason, seeing it sparse of objects gave me a sense of anxiety. How many nights did we spend in this room, on her bed? She was moving back into her parents’ house in the morning and I knew I would never come back to this place again.
“Jack,” she said, us sitting on her bed, her attention on her hands.
“You need anything?” I asked her. It was cold and rainy that night. I felt her forehead. She felt warm.
“No, I’m fine,” she said.
I could hear laughter and music from the living room. Her roommates, two fat oompa loompas named Bill and Hilda, were watching some British show.
“I could run over to the grocery store, get you some soup or something? No problem. I’d love to.”
She smiled and shook her head.
We sat there and talked, and then I kissed her, and something wasn’t right about that kiss. I told myself it was just because she was sick. But now I wonder.
Did she know then?
Where is she?
I drive. Headlights turn the rain to melting brass that splatters off the hood. And then I’m in Redmond, blowing by Marymoor Park, and then I’m swerving through lights. The shark is alive, swimming the gulf-streams of the city, now moving into the suburban area. I’m at her parents’ house.
I power down the Fahrenheit and sit. Wait. Breathe. Hush.
Nothing. No lights on, no one’s home.
“Play Track Forty-Four, from the Keira Monster Playlist.”
“As you command.”
Kelly Clarkson’s Already Gone begins to play.
She has a brother named Dale. He’s pretty cool even though he’s only sixteen and a stoner. He’s heavily into video games on the Wii. He’s home. I see the light on in his room.
I open up my metallic case and bring out my PS-15 night-vision scope. Her house jumps up in front of me in lime and lemon clarity. I place the targeting hairs on Dale’s window, flip a switch to thermal, and see his blurry image walking around his room.
So by all rights Keira should be living here now.
I could go up and knock on the door.
Hey Dale, it’s me, Jack, your sister’s boyfriend, remember? I came over for dinner that night and didn’t say a whole lot and your mom made salmon pasta and some other weird tasting pale stuff? Is Keira here?
He’d look at me strange and tell me, I thought you two broke up?
Because I’m beginning to think that she broke up with me but is afraid to tell me.
“Oh that better not be what’s happening. That would be so crappy!”
Maybe she lost her phone.
What to do what to do. I could go out and purchase a big ass stereo, find a Peter Gabriel song, and stand outside of her window blaring a cheesy song. That seems to work for people.
You ever notice that in the movies, after the two people get together and find bliss, something happens and they break up, or their relationship is put in jeopardy. Then the hero (in this case, me) has to figure out how to win the girl back. Luckily, from what I’ve seen, the hero always gets the girl back. So armed with this information I have hope.
I’m going to go up and just fucking knock on her door. I mean, why not?
“Okay.” Deep breath. Open the car door. Good. Hand’s shaking? What the French Toast? Why’s my hand trembling?
Walking across the street, up the drive, nice little lawn decorations that her mother’s collected. Kind of kitschy but then again her mom’s a kitschy woman. She’s also not bad looking. I mean she’s kind of sexy which means Keira’s going to remain sexy, which is good, unless Keira’s no longer with me and someone else gets to spend the rest of his life with her.
Unless I find out who and kill him.
Okay, here I am. At the familiar door. Just knock.
“Control yourself Jack. Just knock. She’s not home.”
But what if she is? What if I knock, the door opens and there she is. What would I do? Would I smile, reach out, hug her? Cry? I think I would cry. I think I’d ball like a little baby because I’d be so glad that she’s okay and that I’m seeing her again.
What would she do?
Fuck. What if she opens the door, sees me, and then as I’m reaching to give her a hug, tears in my eyes, a smile on my lips, she closes the door.
Holy crap what if that actually happens?
I turn and run.
I power the Fahrenheit up and drive.
“What’s our destination, Jack?”
“Unable to locate.”
Seattle’s sky is all bourbon and ice tonight and the drizzle is neon, glowing across the asphalt. Last night I dreamt of her, our love story swirled in calligraphy across the sky. I held her, looked into her bright blue eyes and she said my name.